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Kansas Arts Commission Eliminated

Posted on: May 31, 2011

Governor Brownback of Kansas kept his promise and vetoed funding appropriated to the Kansas Arts Commission on Saturday, May 29, 2011 which results in the elimination of the agency.

Earlier this year the Kansas Senate voted 24-13 to override Governor Brownback's executive order which mandated the phasing out of the Kansas Arts Commission. Saturday Brownback veto the $689,000 that legislators set aside for the Kansas Arts Commission and additionally struck the line authorizing the commission to keep its small staff. His administration told the commission earlier this month that its five employees would be laid off June 10. Brownback has proposed setting aside $200,000 as seed money to start a private foundation that would replace the Arts Commission. Since the Senate had included that $200,000 in the Art Commission’s $689,000 budget, that seed money was also vetoed. Brownback maintains that, the arts will continue to thrive in Kansas when funded by private donations, and I intend to personally involve myself in efforts to make this happen.

During the Kansas Arts Commission’s 45-year history, Kansas’ nonprofit arts and culture sector has become a booming industry—one that generates $153.5 million annually in direct statewide economic activity. This spending–$80.3 million by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and an additional $73.2 million in event-related spending by their audiences–supports 4,612 full-time equivalent jobs, generates $95.1 million in household income to local residents, and delivers $15.6 million in local and state government revenue. With modest grants to non-profit arts groups, the KAC has been the driving force in establishing arts and cultural organizations in many of Kansas’ most rural communities, providing all citizens, not just those in large urban areas, with access to quality artistic experiences.

Further, the Kansas Arts Commission received a matching grant of $778,200 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in 2011 to support Kansas jobs, artists and cultural groups. That funding is now lost for 2012 with the elimination of the Kansas Arts Commission, the only agency in Kansas that is eligible for the NEA’s matching grants. Kansas also loses the $437,767 the Kansas Arts Commission brought in from its regional partner, the Mid-America Arts Alliance. This $1.2 million funding shortfall far exceeds the $689,000 KAC appropriation recommended by the Kansas legislature during budget negotiations.

Americans for the Arts President and CEO, Robert Lynch made this statement in response to Governor Brownback’s actions:

Americans for the Arts is disappointed with Governor Sam Brownback’s decision to eliminate the Kansas Arts Commission (KAC) by vetoing the legislative branch’s budget for the agency. His action not only robs the citizens of his state of access to quality arts programming, but is also a direct affront to his campaign platform to create jobs and rebuild the state’s economy. Kansas now holds the dubious distinction of being the only state without a functioning state agency in charge of promoting the arts and culture.

In the end Gov. Brownback saved 0.005% of the state’s $13.8 billion budget with the elimination of the Kansas Arts Commission.

In February citizens gathered for a Rally in Topeka Kansas in support to theKansas Arts Commission and had lots to say about how the arts impacted their communities.